Team Manitoba-Cameron skip Kate Cameron watches her shot during Thursday night’s playoff-clinching win. (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

Sudden-death games are always exciting in sports. They add a certain buzz to the proceedings.

But they are hard on the nerves, as skip Kate Cameron experienced Thursday evening at the 2024 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary.

Cameron needed all the shots in her arsenal to lead Team Manitoba-Cameron (5-3, Winnipeg) into the playoffs of the Canadian Women’s Curling Championship, and the relief in her voice was evident.

“That was our goal coming into today, happy that we were to face some challenges this morning and get through it all,” said Cameron, who defeated Team British Columbia-Grandy (5-3, Vancouver) 5-3 in a final round-robin game to decide the third-place playoff position in Pool B. The two teams tied in the standings but Cameron got the nod in the head-to-head matchup.

“Better we were in a position to control our own destiny so we were happy we didn’t have to rely on anyone else,” she added.

Team Manitoba-Cameron’s win sets the stage for the playoffs, and the fireworks start at noon (all times Mountain) Friday. In one of the first delicious matchups in a new playoff system, Team Alberta (7-1, Edmonton), skipped by Selena Sturmay, will take on Team Manitoba-Jones (6-2, Winnipeg/Altona), skipped by six-time Canadian women’s curling champion Jennifer Jones.

Yukon skip Bayly Scoffin delivers a shot during her team’s first win. (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

Meanwhile, skip Rachel Homan’s Team Ontario-Homan (8-0, Ottawa) will face off against skip Kerri Einarson’s Team Canada (7-1, Gimli). Team Canada is looking to capture its fifth-straight Canadian title.

Homan is looking forward to the game against Einarson.

“We just have to play our game and make sure we keep building,” she said. “It’s sport, so it can go either way. You saw that in the last draw. We’ve been playing really solid and just making a few more than the other team. You need a bit of luck but you need to be good to be lucky.

“Nice to have a clean record because we get rocks (choice of rock colour) and hammer tomorrow.”

The winners will go directly to the Page Playoff 1-2 game Saturday at 6 p.m., while the losers meet the third-place pool finishers (Cameron and Team Manitoba-Lawes, skipped by Kaitlyn Lawes) at Friday at 6 p.m. The winners of those games will advance to the Page playoff 3-4 game Saturday at noon.

The top two spots in the Pool B already decided, it was left up to Team Cameron and Team Clancy Grandy to decide who was going to join the six-team playoff party.

And, as expected, they fought tooth and nail for the right to continue playing.

Steals in ends eight and nine were enough for Team Cameron to pull ahead.

Team Ontario-Homan, which had already locked up first place in the nine-team pool, kept the pedal to the metal by bouncing Team Nova Scotia (3-5, Halifax), skipped by Heather Smith, 6-3.

Team Northwest Territories (3-5, Yellowknife), skipped by Kerry Galusha, had an emotional sendoff from the Scotties, scoring an 8-4 win over Team Manitoba-Jones. The Polars were playing their final game as a team.

In the other Pool B game, skip Bayly Scoffin’s Team Yukon (1-7, Whitehorse) finally broke its goose egg with an 11-4 win over Team New Brunswick (2-6, Fredericton), skipped by Melissa Adams.

Team Ontario-Inglis (3-5, Ottawa), skipped by Danielle Inglis, had the evening Pool B bye.